Pet-Friendly Workplaces: A Paw-fect Employee Retention Tool

Offering pet-related perks has been touted as one strategy for employers trying to get a leg up (or a paw up!) when competing for employees. In honor of Take Your Dog to Work day on June 24, here’s a roundup of pet-related workplace considerations and benefit offerings.

According to a survey by Nationwide, 32% of pet owners surveyed said having pet-related benefits available to them would influence them to stay at their current employer or leave their company for one that does. The American Pet Products Association estimates that about 70% of U.S. households, or 90.5 million homes, own a pet of some kind, which means a lot of workers have a furry friend at home.

As more organizations make the return to the office, many of those pet parents are concerned about the implications for their pets. In fact, a MetLife survey revealed that 78% of pet parents said their office return would negatively impact their pet.

If organizations can’t host Take Your Dog to Work day every day, here are the top benefits that pet owners said would improve employer favorability, according to the Nationwide survey.

  • Pet insurance: 40%
  • Offering paid time off to care for a pet: 29%
  • Having a pet-friendly office (like allowing pets in the office): 27%
  • Offering “pawternity” or paid leave to take care of a new pet: 14%

Preliminary data from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans 2022 Employee Benefits Survey seems to indicate that employers are acknowledging employees’ desires for help with their pet needs. About 35% of corporate employer respondents offer pet insurance as a voluntary (employee-pay-all) benefit, up from 24% in 2020. The prevalence of providing leave to take care of a pet is on the rise, with nearly 3% of employers indicating that they offer paid pet care leave and 7% reporting that they offer unpaid leave. Finally, 5% of employers say they allow pets at work.

Employers looking to go above and beyond may draw inspiration from employers that are deemed to be the most pet-friendly. A roundup of such companies reveals some of these unique perks:

  • Subscriptions to a dog-walking service
  • A pet benefit reimbursement account
  • Dog training classes
  • Paid time off to volunteer for animal causes
  • Dog parks at work
  • Mobile grooming services at work
  • Paid pet bereavement leave.

Employers may see additional benefits from such policies besides improved recruitment and retention. A study conducted by Nationwide in partnership with the Human Animal Bond Research Institute showed that a higher percentage of employees are highly connected to their company’s mission, fully engaged with their work and willing to recommend their employer to others when they work in pet-friendly workplaces, compared with those who don’t. A pet-friendly workplace is defined in the study as an employer that occasionally or regularly allows pets in the workplace and/or offers a pet-friendly employee benefit such as pet health insurance.

Kathy Bergstrom, CEBS
Senior Editor, Publications at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


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